Seniors and loneliness series: The negative effects of loneliness

Bojana NedicHealth & WellnessDecember 29, 2017
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In this 4-part series on seniors and loneliness, we’ll help you figure out if your aging loved one is lonely, causes of loneliness in seniors, the negative effects of loneliness and the role retirement communities play in reducing loneliness.


If you’ve ever wondered if one of the seniors you know and love is lonely, you probably know about the losses and situations that lead to loneliness.


But what does loneliness lead to? Unfortunately, loneliness—this thing that seniors don’t want to talk about—is not only sad but bad for our health and lifestyle!


The negative effects of loneliness:

  • Mental decline—Research indicates that older adults who are lonely experience cognitive decline 20% faster than non-lonely people.
  • Depression—Loneliness increases symptoms of depression.
  • Cycle of loneliness—Seniors value their independence and don’t want to ‘become a burden’ on anyone so they don’t ask for help. Unfortunately, this can mean they don’t receive the help that could keep them independent and socially connected…which leads to more isolation, loss and loneliness.
  • Daily tasks become tougherThis study found that seniors who said they were lonely were more likely to have difficulty with activities of daily living (i.e., eating, bathing, dressing, using the washroom, getting around).
  • Increased healthcare costs—This happens because of the medical effects of loneliness and because lonely seniors see a trip to the doctor as a social outing.


With so many negative effects of loneliness, you’re right to be concerned about someone who’s lonely.  But this isn’t up to you to fix. All you can do is stay in touch, share useful resources, offer to help and suggest concrete ways you’re willing to help. 


If your loved one is lonely, it could help to talk about what kind of living situation could alleviate isolation. Reducing isolation and building and maintaining meaningful relationships is the best way to keep loneliness at bay. That’s why we believe in helping Canadians find retirement communities where it’s easy to make and keep connections.


Join us for the fourth and final part of this series where we talk about the role retirement communities play in reducing loneliness.

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